14 March 1938
Before trying to discuss, probably in a confused way, I want to give a clear answer to your question. If as you say it is of “vital importance” for you to be able to leave Austria and return to England, there is no doubt – you must not go to Vienna. Whether you are a lecturer at Cambridge or not, now you would not be let out: the frontier of Austria is closed to the exit of Austrians. No doubt these restrictions will have been somewhat relaxed in a month’s time. But there will be no certainty for a long time that you will be allowed to go out, and I think a considerable chance of your not being allowed out for some time. You are aware no doubt that are now a German citizen. Your Austrian passport will certainly be withdrawn and then you will have to apply for a German passport, which may be granted if and when the Gestapo is satisfied that you deserve it.
As to the possibility of war, I do not know: it may happen at any moment, or we may have one or two more years of “peace”. I really have no idea. But I should not gamble on the likelihood of six months’ peace.
If however you decided in spite of all to go back to Vienna, I think: a) it would certainly increase your chance of being allowed out of Austria if you were a lecturer in Cambridge; b) there would be no difficulty in your entering England, once you are let out of Austria (of Germany, I should say); c) before leaving Ireland or England you should have your passport changed with a German one, at a German consulate: I suppose they will begin to do so in a very short time; and you are more likely to get the exchange effected here than in Vienna; and, if you go with a German passport, you are more likely (though not at all certain) to be let out again.
You must be careful, I think, about various things: 1) if you go to Austria, you must have made up your mind not to say that you are of Jewish descent, or they are sure to refuse you a passport; 2) you must not say that you have money in England, for when you are there they could compel you to hand it over to the Reichsbank; 3) if you are approached, in Dublin or Cambridge, by the German Consulate, for registration, or change of passport, be careful how you answer, for a rash word might prevent you ever going back to Vienna; 4) take care how you write home, stick to purely personal affairs, for letters are certainly censored.
If you have made up your mind, you should apply at once for Irish citizenship – perhaps your period of residence in England will be counted for that purpose: do it before your Austrian passport is taken away from you, it is probably easier as an Austrian than as a German.
In the present circumstances I should not have qualms about British nationality if that is the only one which you can acquire without waiting for another ten years’ residence: also you have friends in England who could help you to get it: certainly a Cambridge job would enable you to get it quickly.
I shall be in Cambridge till Friday: afterwards letters will be forwarded to me in Italy, so take care what you say, that you may be writing for the Italian censor.
My telephone is 3675: you will find me available before noon and in the evening after 10.
Excuse this confused letter.
6 months ago